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Convict Ship Bengal Merchant 1835

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Select from the Links below to find information about Convict Ships arriving in New South Wales, Norfolk Island and Van Diemen's Land between the years 1788 and 1850

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Embarked 270 men
Voyage 121 days
Deaths 3
Surgeon's Journal - Yes
Tons: 503
Previous vessel: Royal Admiral arrived 22 January 1835
Next vessel: Forth arrived 3 February 1835
Captain William Campbell
Surgeon Superintendent James Ellis

The Bengal Merchant was built in Calcutta in 1812 and was taken up by the East India Company in 1813. The Bengal Merchant was sold to Joseph Somes in 1834.

The Convicts came from counties in England and Scotland. Some had been tried and convicted at the Old Bailey and incarcerated in Newgate prison. Select here to find out what it may have been like to be imprisoned in Newgate in 1834 - 35. From Newgate and other county prisons the men were transferred to the Hulks to await transportation.


Thomas Bewick who had been convicted of larceny in Durham on 22 February 1834, was transferred to the Jusitita Hulk on 14th March 1834 and transferred to the Bengal Merchant with many others on 19th September 1834.  Those in the Fortitude hulk were taken to the Bengal Merchant on 23 September 1834.

The Bengal Merchant departed Sheerness on 1st October 1834.

The Guard consisted of 2 sergeants, 27 rank and file of the 50th regiment under command of Capt. McDonald and Ensign Cobbin. Passengers included Mrs. McDonald, Miss McDonald, Misses Eliza, Charlotte, Emily, Louisa, Sarah and Elizabeth McDonald, Masters Charles and Richard McDonald, 10 women (soldiers wives) and 13 children.

Detachments of the 50th regiment arrived on the Surry, Forth, Bengal Merchant Hooghley, Susan, Blenheim, Royal Admiral, Lady Nugent, Parmelia, James Laing, Hive, Hooghley Captain Cook, Hero, Roslin Castle, Henry Porcher, Henry Tanner and Lady Kennaway

James Ellis kept a Medical Journal from 6th September 1834 to 20 February 1835. He found that catarrh and bowel complaints appeared almost immediately on their coming on board, and the sick list increased while at sea with many and various complaints and among them several cases of inflammatory fever, of which one prisoner, John Stroud died. Two more prisoners also died on the passage out.

On the 17 December scurvy made it appearance and rapidly increased so much so that seventy seven cases of the disease had been under treatment, the principal features of the disease were a debilitated state of body, sallow complexion, spongy and bleeding gums, stiffness and swellings of the joints particularly the knees, and sometimes yellow and greenish blotches on the trunk and extremities. The surgeon's recourse was the vegetable acids and also the solution of nitre in vinegar lately so strongly recommended, to one portion of cases. Lime juice alone was administered in doses of two ounces, three, four or five times in the day to others.

The Bengal Merchant made a direct passage and arrived in Port Jackson on Friday 30 January 1835.

The prisoners were supposed to be landed in the week beginning the 8th February, however the Sydney Monitor reported on the 14th and the 21st that the Bengal Merchant was still lying in the stream with prisoners on board. The heat was so excessive in Sydney at this time that it was reported that over thirty bullocks had dropped dead from heat exhaustion and were still lying on various streets around Sydney.

The Bengal Merchant set sail from Port Jackson on 26th February bound for Java.

Distribution of Convicts of the Bengal Merchant - of the 267 landed -
20 were retained for public service;
1 was unfit for assignment;
6 were specials;
15 were in hospital;
29 were sent to work in irons on Goat Island;
196 were assigned to Private Service.  

Notes & Links:

1).  James Ellis was also surgeon on the convict ships Diana in 1833 and the Waterloo in 1838.

2).  Hunter Valley convicts / passengers per Bengal Merchant in 1835

3).  Convict Ships to NSW in 1835


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